Whenever I meet a new neighbor, I warn them about Halloween—not because of an impending zombie apocalypse, although mark my word, it’s going to happen someday—but so they can be ready.
Having moved into town from the suburbs, I wasn’t used to many trick-or-treaters coming around. A small bag of candy would suffice for the handful that haunted my door.
In Grant Park, it’s a different story. During the first year in the neighborhood, we were utterly unprepared. We ran out of candy, yet the kids in costume kept coming. We raided the pantry to fill their plastic pumpkins: cans of Coke, protein bars, and even a box of Rice-A-Roni, you know, the San Francisco Treat. Still, the trick-or-treaters filed up the steps.
As soon as there was a break and nothing left to give after dropping a piece of laxative gum into a child’s pillowcase and telling them, “You’ll thank me later,” we turned off the lights and huddled under the glass window of the front door, praying they wouldn’t see us as they pressed their noses against the glass and called, “Anybody home?….”
The following year, we vowed to be ready. We bought enough candy to feed a small, third-world country.
We watched a MINI Cooper pull up at the corner. Its doors opened, and an army of costumed children climbed out of the back as if it were a clown car under the big top.
We jotted tally marks on the back of an envelope with a pen, documenting how the numbers went up each year: 322, 437, 519, 642, and 720.
Using a unique calculation, we’ve moved beyond counting bags of candy and begun buying candy by the pound.
This year we’ve replaced our rudimentary pen-and-paper tally system with the efficiency of a handheld counter clicker.
If it seems daunting, fear not. It’s best to remember it’s all about the kids. As soon as the first knee-high prices or cowboy rings your doorbell, it all seems worth it.
One of my favorite memories was watching a toddler pirate climb up our steps on all fours with his plastic saber between his teeth and breathlessly whisper, “Trick or treat!” Our steps are steep, so we figured he had earned two pieces of candy instead of one.
Halloween is also a great time to catch up with neighbors. We take turns visiting one another’s porches and checking out decorations and candy. “I’ll trade you a Bit-o-Honey or a Banana Laffy Taffy.” Famous last worths before they pull out a filling or crown.
One of our favorite Halloween traditions is to invite friends from quiet neighborhoods to join us on the porch. They love seeing the kids in their outfits and help subsidize the candy. We also make homemade chili and cornbread and drink beer and cider.
Be prepared for kids to show up as early as 5:30 PM, and the crowds start to calm down by 8:30 PM.
How many pounds of candy do you have? Are you ready for Halloween?